Edgar Ray Killen, convicted in 'Mississippi Burning' killings, dead at 92

Edgar Ray Killen is escorted int o the Neshoba County Courthouse before sentencing

Edgar Ray Killen, convicted in 'Mississippi Burning' killings, dead at 92

A man convicted in the deaths of three civil rights workers in MS died in prison.

The Mississippi Department of Corrections tells NPR that Edgar Ray Killen died Thursday night at the age of 92.

The slayings of James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner in Philadelphia, Mississippi, on June 21, 1964, at the hands of the Klan, local law enforcement officers and others was one of the most shocking and galvanizing moments of the USA civil rights movement.

The murders shocked the nation and helped spur passage of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Edgar Ray Killen in 1964 in Philadelphia, Mississippi.

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The men were detained by police, before being ambushed and shot by Klansmen who were tipped-off about their release.

The cause and manner of death were pending an autopsy, the statement said.

Their bodies were discovered by authorities 44 days later, buried in a red clay dam in rural Neshoba County. However, no foul play is suspected.

In 1967, prosecutors convicted eight defendants for violating the federal criminal civil rights conspiracy statute, namely the victims' right to live.

His first trial in 1967 ended in mistrial, but Killen was retried almost 40 years later after state authorities reopened the murder investigations, according to the Clarion Ledger.

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An all-white jury convicted seven of the men, including Bowers and a sheriff's deputy, and they were given sentences ranging from three to 10 years.

A MS judge attempted to dismiss the charges against most of the defendants, but the Supreme Court later reversed the decision. He was tried and convicted in 2005 on the manslaughter charges after the state reopened the murder investigations.

In June 2016, the state of MS finally officially closed the case.

Last year, federal and MS authorities closed the books on the case, saying no viable prosecutions remain in the more than half-century-old investigation.

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